As you might expect, the debut from Strokes bassist Nikolai Fraiture is, well, Strokesian. But it's far from a carbon copy of his other band. The Time of the Assassins is a mellow affair steeped in folk and pub rock and ska, with earthy instrumentation drifting up through the mix: acoustic fingerpicking, harmonica and, on "Where the Cold Wind Blows," some Chopin-style piano plinking courtesy of Regina Spektor. The Strokes-ish quality is in the music's rigor: Assassins combines groove and melody with the same machinelike precision that sets Fraiture's other outfit apart. Then there are the lyrics: woozy vignettes about big cities and bad romances, delivered in a seen-it-all drawl. If anyone's earned the right to bite Julian Casablancas, it's this guy.
From The Archives Issue 1071: February 5, 2009